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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.64%
Worth A Look61.36%
Average: 22.73%
Pretty Bad: 2.27%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol
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by Brett Gallman

"It's definitely okay to like Tom Cruise again."
4 stars

There’s plenty of gunshots and shootouts in the latest “Mission: Impossible” flick, but one instance in particular stands out to me. It comes just after Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has been given the details on his latest mission, and the gunfire here sets the film off like a sprinter from the starting gate as it zips along with reckless abandon. If that metaphor doesn’t do it for you, imagine this as a an elaborately crafted pyrotechnics show that hits all of the right spectacular notes in a symphony of finely-tuned destruction.

Before this, you see the fuse get lit with a typical exposition-laden setup that sees Hunt escape from a Russian prison, only to get embroiled in a plot that ends with the Kremlin being exploded. Once again, he’s been setup, but, this time, the script goes for broke and has the entire IMF division being disavowed. This leaves Hunt with a ragtag gang of agents (comprised of Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner) that he must team up with to thwart a doomsday terrorist intent on starting World War 3.

Another side-winding, globe-hopping adventure ensues, and one thing you’ll notice immediately is the incredible sense of scope Brad Bird brings to this film. Making his live action debut, he not only captures the breadth of the conflict (which is the largest of any of the "M:I" films), but also the scale of his locations. Establishing shots are enormous and gorgeous, with one of the most unforgettable involving the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is currently the world’s tallest structure. Even if you haven’t seen the trailer, you gather that something death-defying will occur here.

And it does, as we see Cruise (and it actually is Cruise if we’re to believe the reports) scale the building, an incredible feat that reminds us of how awe-inspiring stunt work can be; it isn’t just that it’s genuine peril in this case (though it certainly helps), but it’s also a massive moment that demands your attention. Like watching a cinematic high-wire act, it grabs you in suspense; in fact, this (and a few other sequences) are among the most breathtaking sequences of the year at the movies. They’ll push you to the ledge and will eventually make you jump, not because they’re loud, but because they’re viscerally impacting--you feel it when Cruise slams headlong into a wall and nearly plunges to his doom.

The more kinetic action sequences are equally impressive; there’s one involving a car factory that’s meticulously controlled chaos and finds Hunt battling for the possession of a briefcase. Both he and the case bounce and plummet all over the frame in an expertly crafted sequence that feels like everything the droid foundry scene in “Attack of the Clones” should have been. Bird and editor Paul Hirsch bring a praise-worthy fluidity to both this and other sequences; very rarely does any of the action feel staged, and the film deftly shifts between multiple sequences with ease. Even a dialogue-heavy sequence involving an exchange of launch codes is exciting due to some inspired cross-cutting.

“Ghost Protocol” could have easily deteriorated into a series of incredible set-pieces loosely stringed along by a half-baked plot, but it avoids this fate. I do think it’s fair to say that the A-thread involving the chase to track down nuclear materials is rote, but there’s an interesting, intimate undercurrent with the characters involved. For once, the series dispenses with neck-breaking double-crosses, opting instead for another revelation that gives way to a subplot that continues a thread from the third film. This breeds a sense of familiarity for the first time in the series, with Hunt’s character benefiting the most; I always felt like they were setting him up to be an American counterpart to James Bond in the first two films, something which never quite worked for me.

Though he was an enjoyable character, I never felt it quite transcended Cruise’s daft, playboy persona; with both part three and “Ghost Protocol,” I finally get a sense of who Ethan Hunt is, and there’s a warmness here with the camaraderie that works really well. These films have always featured a revolving door for the cast around Cruise, but I think this one really nails the chemistry with its ensemble. Pegg is wisely held over from part 3 and is even more wisely given more screen-time as the perfectly placed comic relief. He earns that role in every sense of the word--just as you’re catching your breath from something thrilling, he strolls in and delivers a well-timed quip. The biggest addition here is Renner, who is positioned as the laconic badass with a potentially dark past, but, again, the film is smart enough to sidestep this. In many ways, he feels like Hunt if he were more of a finicky, nervous everyman, which is unexpected.

If there’s a huge complaint to be made, it’s that this group doesn’t have a formidable adversary. Michael Nyqvist is the doomsday prophesier, and he gets maybe one grand self-aggrandizing moment but otherwise proves to be a poor follow-up to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s enigmatic antagonist in part 3. In fact, Léa Seydoux makes more of an impression as a French assassin, a cool, devilish little minx who just looks and feels perfect for a spy thriller. Other quibbles may rear their heads, as there’s certainly some plot contrivances, but, for the most part, “Ghost Protocol” is a spectacular action film.

Speaking of the franchise’s revolving door, I’d be fine if it stopped for a while and trapped Brad Bird; using this series as a showcase for various directors has worked well (I don’t think there’s a bad film in the bunch), but I think they’ve really hit on something with this cast and crew that can be further exploited. This is the best “Mission: Impossible” yet, as it embraces both the techno-wonder and the stripped-down coolness of seeing a group of tacticians infiltrate with such precision. A climactic sequence set at a high-class party feels like vintage “M:I,” and especially recalls De Palma’s outing from 15 years ago. I don’t think it’s too often that a director can claim to have topped De Palma, but I think Bird did it here. “Ghost Protocol” is a sleek, sexy action film that’ll leave you hoping that the series won’t take a five year break this time.

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originally posted: 12/16/11 20:36:26
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User Comments

8/28/13 Jeff Wilder Definitely the best in the series so far. 4 stars
1/27/13 the truth paula patton. 'nuff said. and more famous cruise sprinting (even up skyscrapers)! awesome 5 stars
5/06/12 The Taitor Started good, the middle was decent but the ending was over the top, not better than #2or3 3 stars
4/14/12 action movie fanb very good action and story james bond like film 5 stars
4/01/12 sdxf Solid and entertaining 4 stars
3/09/12 G Scott Strangely boring for so much action, but looks gorgeous in IMAX 3 stars
1/24/12 Devin Sabas great action a must see in imax if you can 5 stars
1/13/12 Donald Hallett good action flick acting could have been better 3 stars
1/13/12 Isaac What a phenomenal action film. Brad Bird is a true auteur. 5 stars
1/07/12 mr.mike Best action film in 5 years. 5 stars
1/01/12 Koitus I liked it. Could have used more gun-play, though. Beautiful women & cars! 3 stars
12/30/11 R.W. Welch Floorboard actioner, but overlong and a shade gimmicky. B- 4 stars
12/30/11 SREEKIRAN MURALIDHARAN breathtaking stunts and excellent presentation 4 stars
12/27/11 KingNeutron Great action movie - Cruise redeemed himself with this one 4 stars
12/25/11 Flipsider Contains some incredible action sequences! Fantastic!!! 5 stars
12/22/11 davofern A white knuckle ride for most of the movie 4 stars
12/21/11 Stacie Clark not so great :( 2 stars
12/19/11 MC Thrilling. Definitely the best action film of the year! 4 stars
12/17/11 Ming Best action film of the Year. Great skyscraper stunt scene 4 stars
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  21-Dec-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2012

  26-Dec-2011 (12A)

  15-Dec-2011 (M)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2012

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